How to start prepping

Here’s a refreshing change-of-pace from my normal political diatribes.  Let’s talk about preparedness.  I’m going to try and make this a regular Friday piece, so if I lost you already, my apologies.

But preparedness is something that my family also feels strongly about.  And no, we don’t own a bunker, or land in Montana, or our own missile silo.  (Although that last one is pretty cool – I spent 180+ days of my life living in one of those, although mostly against my will.)

Preparedness, to me, means making reasonable preparation should something unexpected happen in your life, such as:

  • 3 days during a blizzard with no electricity
  • The collapse of the dollar
  • Losing your job!
  • Tainted drinking water
  • Economic collapse
  • Natural disaster
  • Pandemic
  • Massive terrorist action(s) – remember the entire country was shut down for 2+ days following 9/11
  • EMP or some other major act of war
  • Wildfire (or house fire!)
  • What if any of the above happen to a family member and they move in with you?
  • You name it!

Many of us in Colorado were touched personally by wildfire in 2012 or knew someone who was.  And 2013 is shaping up to be another red-flag summer, so heads-up.  Our family didn’t get evacuated or even really have fire all that close to us – but we had fires burning on 3 sides and our worry was what we’d do if a new one started near us (there wasn’t anyone left to fight anything new… seriously, they had pulled thousands of firefighters from all across the country to fight both the High Park fire and the Waldo Canyon fire which were burning at the same time, along with many others).

So here’s my point: if you haven’t considered what you’d do if disaster (or something else abnormal with severe consequences) struck your family, you’re living in a dream world.  For help with the “normalcy bias,” click here.

But there’s good news!  Prepping is easy!  It’s NOT about living off the grid, it’s not about living inside a Faraday Cage, and it’s not about building a flamethrower bunker in your front yard.  Although if you have one for sale and you can teach me how to use it, call me.

It’s about baby steps.  I’ll explain.  The most likely scenario for many of us in Colorado would be getting snowed in for a few days.  So let’s start there.  How much frozen pizza do you have in your fridge right now?  What about that can of beans hidden in the back of your pantry?  Most of us would be fine for a few days as long as the electricity stays on.  But it’s worth a peek into your freezer and pantry anyway.  So if you have an extra can of pumpkin pie filling in your pantry right now, I have news for you: you’re already a prepper.

But if we want to get serious about this, let’s look at the same 3-days-in-the-house scenario, and then subtract electrical power.  Now what?

  • Can you get into that can of beans, or is your electric can opener now out-of-commission?
  • How will you stay warm?  Do you have a backup heat source or are you sleeping in your parka tonight?
  • How much water do you have on hand?  (don’t forget that your pets drink water too)
  • Can you actually survive without your iPad for 3 days?  Really?

Water is a significant problem for those of us in Colorado (and most places), but let’s focus on food.  Here’s an easy tip for you: take a look at the food items in your pantry now; what is their expiration date?  If you eat something regularly that has a shelf life of longer than a year (yes, Twinkies count… or they would if they still made them I guess), how hard is it to just buy a little more of that stuff next time you’re at the store?  So if you go to the store to buy a package of mac-n-cheese, why not just buy 2 packs and then stash one away somewhere?

Welcome to life as a prepper.  🙂

Here are some other thoughts:

  • During Katrina, it was 72 hours before the National Guard started going in to rescue people.  How many didn’t even make it that long?  72 hours is a good goal for everyone – but real survival STARTS at 72 hours.
  • If the emergency allows (or requires!) you to stay at home, do you have what you need at home?
  • What if the emergency requires you to evacuate?  Where will you go?  What will you bring?  How long will it take you to evacuate?  What important things will you forget?
  • Think about EVERYTHING you eat, use, drive, play with… everything.  Now what if you missed any one piece of that (a small thing like your phone is out… or a big thing like electricity or gasoline)?  What about any two pieces?  What about all of it?  What would you do?  How would you survive?

And no matter what, don’t forget the Twinkies.

Quite possibly, the world’s perfect food

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5 comments on “How to start prepping

  1. Dean says:

    Great post. Thanks.

    In California, they’re now suggesting preparing for two weeks! http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/03/11/residents-urged-to-prep-for-two-weeks-on-your-own-on-quake-anny/

  2. Thanks, Dean! Yeah I was going to try and work that in somehow but I got side-tracked on Twinkies. 🙂 But you’re exactly right: the 3-day paradigm is changing, at least from an official/governmental capacity. Honestly, though, if every American had 3 or 4 days of absolute self-sufficiency within their power, I’m fully convinced we could make it through just about everything. I’ll talk about EMPs at some point down the road, but I don’t want to scare people off (yet). Thanks for reading!

  3. Jim Konzak says:

    Jeff – was that Minuteman III or Peacekeeper where you pulled silo watches? I’m guessing it was the former, because Peacekeeper was only deployed from 1986 to 2005 and you’re probably too young to have been on that program. I did a lot of work on LGM-118A Stage IV from 1984-88 for TRW and was really saddened when it was deactivated, for policy and sentimental reasons.

    I’m looking forward to your thoughts about EMPs. William Forstchen’s One Second After is the scariest book I’ve ever read.

  4. Jim – Minuteman III. The PK’s were in Wyoming. I was in ND from 1997 to 2001. I’m no expert on EMPs, but I have done a ton of research and stolen some unofficial thoughts from some good friends of mine who *are* experts – so you’ll have to let me know what you think.

  5. Bonnie in Denver says:

    Jeff — thank you for these thoughts. It seems to me that preparedness would be quite different depending on the nature of the problem. Maybe an idea for future posts would be to treat each potential “challenge” individually, with recommendations for each.There is bound to be a lot of crossover such as water, clothing, shelter, etc. but in exploring the variations could sure come some items everyone is likely to overlook. Keep ’em coming!

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